Continuing Education for Planners

All of our continuing education sessions are presented by BIA's experienced planners at no cost. We'd love to be part of your conference or to lead a more intimate "lunch & learn" session with your staff at your office.


Online (available anytime)


Making or Faking Great Places: Design Guidelines for Smarter Growth (1 AICP CM Credit)


In-Person (available by request)


Better Communities by Design: Translating a Community Design Vision to Policy (1 AICP CM Credit)

Is your community considering adopting or updating its design standards or guidelines?  If so, this session is a great course on the ins and outs of design policy including the difference between standards and guidelines, avoiding common pitfalls in policy writing, and responding to objections sometimes heard from developers, the public, and elected officials.  

Participants will…

  1. Learn to clearly draft policy language to achieve desired built environment;
  2. Recognize common pitfalls in policy writing;
  3. Be able to respond to commonly heard objections to the adoption of new design policies;
  4. Understand the functional differences between standards and guidelines.


Challenges and Solutions for Downtown Character (1 AICP CM Credit)

Downtowns continue to be well-loved places in many communities, but they are often threatened by ill-conceived façade modifications and poorly executed infill projects. This photo-heavy session addresses common problems in downtowns and policy solutions for ensuring the economic and cultural success of these special districts.

Participants will…

  1. Understand the ways in which downtowns are unique from other districts in their function and building design/quality;
  2. Learn about the full range of building design issues that impact the success of downtowns as economic and cultural centers;
  3. Be presented with policy snippets addressing downtown design issues, along with photos illustrating what the policies hope to avoid and achieve;
  4. Understand basic principles of maintaining and renovating old downtown buildings to continue to be viable and to respect neighborhood context;


Building Materials and Construction Basics for Planners (1 AICP CM Credit)

When charged with authoring and implementing policies that impact architectural design, planners may find themselves feeling ill-equipped when it comes to construction knowledge. This session will provides an overview of basic construction techniques and an analysis of old and new cladding materials, touching on their functionality, sustainability, costs, and potential impact on building design.

Participants will...

  1. Learn how construction methods, particularly wall systems, affect durability of structures;
  2. Be introduced to the range of common building materials and emerging technologies, and be able to compare material samples side-by-side;
  3. Learn how to clearly draft policy language to achieve community goals for design and construction quality;
  4. Learn to communicate information about construction and materials effectively with the public and community officials;
  5. Understand how other local governments in the Midwest regulate building design.


Building Design Basics for Planners, by Planners (1 AICP CM Credit) 

Building design choices have impacts that are both aesthetic and functional, affecting the way we use, interpret, and travel through a neighborhood. This companion session to “Building Materials and Construction Basics for Planners" explores the justification for planners’ involvement in design decisions and provides practical advice for influencing the more functional characteristics of building design on a neighborhood scale.
Participants will:
  1. Understand the unique role planners should play in influencing building design, even though they may not be professional designers or architects;
  2. Understand basic building design elements that have less-than-obvious functional, rather than purely cosmetic, impacts on neighborhoods;
  3. Understand the role building materials choice and application plays in the function of neighborhoods;
  4. Be presented with policy advice for influencing design elements for the good of neighborhoods.


Brick Pavers for Sustainable, Functional, and Beautiful Streetscapes (1 AICP CM Credit)

Clay brick pavers have been the literal foundation of beloved neighborhoods for hundreds of years, often with little-to-no maintenance. But in our current culture of disposability, where upfront costs are often the only ones that matter, brick streets, sidewalks, and plazas can be a hard sell. Planners advocating for the longview on streetscape design aren't helped by tales of installation failures, ADA compliance issues, and substandard imitation materials. This session equips planners to communicate the economic, functional, and aesthetic benefits of paver streetscapes to the public and decision makers. Participants will also be prepared to bridge the communication divide between the planning department and the engineering department by understanding the basic concepts of installation, maintenance, and capacity of paver systems.

Participants will...

  1. Acquire a basic understanding of the various paver systems and their appropriate applications;
  2. Understand how the characteristics of the paver unit itself, and the bond pattern in which it is applied, impact the design of a streetscape;
  3. Recognize common pitfalls in material selection, installation, and maintenance that can cause the public to reject paver systems;
  4. Be able to respond to common objections about paver streetscapes;
  5. Be presented with longterm financial comparisons between paver systems and continuous paving systems;
  6. Understand how clay pavers can be applied in permeable systems to reduce runoff.